A Social Jubilee

“This fiftieth year is sacred—it is a time of freedom and of celebration when everyone will receive back their original property, and slaves will return home to their families. ”
—Leviticus 25:10

I’m turning 50 in 2013. I suppose I should make a Jubilee. Not that anyone is materially in debt to me. No, this Jubilee is about something different. It’s about the social and emotional debts our minds thrust upon people.

Example is doing someone a favor, fixing something you have the talents to fix, being a sympathetic ear when things in their life are going wrong. They thank you and you say “it’s nothing” or “fuggedaboutit”. How much of those two phrases to we REALLY mean though? Are we banking the good deeds we do for another against the day when we need a favor or a listening ear?. Or worse, are we banking those good deeds as ammo for an argument or blackmail material to get our own way… because after all we’ve done thus and such or that other thing for this person so they “owe” us. It’s a low and shabby way to act.

If I’m really doing something out of the goodness of my own heart, it it not incumbent upon me to live a Social and Emotional Jubilee? Not just this year, not just next year, but every day of my life? To keep no debtors on file? To give without the self-righteous proclamation that what I give had damned well better go to people who will fall over themselves appreciating me and put what I gave them only to uses I approve of and forevermore live joyless austere lives?

I like this piece of writing: http://www.inhabitatiodei.com/2010/01/20/give-beer-to-beggars/



Joe slipped his leash, created a sick-day, and decided to pay calls, invited or not. He arrived at his first stop with twisting hands and prepared goofy smile,


Ted never turned anyone away and swung his front door wide. Joe settled in while Ted hunted up something to serve his unforeseen guest. Joe received the leftover Danish, still reasonably fresh, and coffee, not yet too concentrated for his taste, with casual thanks. Joe was at home in the world.


After a few moments of chatter about the weather and mutual acquaintances and what happened since they last spoke twelve hours before, Ted sat down at his desk and rummaged through his papers. He attempted the impression of being quite busy.


Ted noted a large coffee ring on Joe’s chair arm. “Do you need a coaster?”


“Oh, this’ll do.” Joe picked up a manuscript page from the side table, deftly folded it in fours, and slid it under the cup.


Ted patted his zip drive and turned back to his monitor. Joe took a deep breath and launched into the tale of his latest acquisition; a new piece of graphics software. He explained each feature and nuance of the soon to be obsolete software in detail.


Morning passed to noontime. Ted accomplished nothing.


“Well, I must be going now,” Joe stood and stretched his bulky mass. “Max’ll want to know about the new software and I don’t think he’s working today.”


“You’ll be there just in time for lunch then.” Ted whisked away Joe’s empty plate and mug.


“His mom’s a good cook.”


Ted looked at the clock. “Twenty till twelve, you know how punctual Missus Duda is.”


Joe left Ted’s house. The coffee was good if a touch bitter, and the Danish, while on the stale side, tasted of that certain raspberry piquancy that always cheered him. He considered his conversation with Ted, pleased in that friendship; Ted the friend, Ted the open door, Ted the willing, Ted the kitchen.


The afternoon sunlight sparkled through leaves of the huge oaks along the broad streets. The crisp breeze whetted Joe’s appetite for whatever Max’s mother might have in store for a fine luncheon. Max’s mother, a woman of inestimable immigrant stock, kept a pantry of staple products.


No siree! Max’s mother didn’t believe in doing things the modern way. Pierogie from scratch arrived upon a whim. Cakes magically appeared in the middle of the afternoon. Joe always schemed to visit Max; though he would never admit to himself that he schemed.


Joe pondered, lost in thoughts of food and warmth and babche-love. He didn’t look where he walked. He saw nothing but pierogie fried in butter, with onion sliced oh so thin and sautéed just right. He did not see children in the playground who pushed and shoved until it escalated into a bloody melee. He did not hear fire trucks, nor see smoke from the barbershop two blocks away.


He didn’t see the light change as he stepped into the crosswalk. He didn’t hear the cry from curb, or the screech of brakes.

The world did not feel at home without Joe.


Copyright L Sergienko 2012



The first time I saw her overdressed, I was a design student. It was 1967. Her skirt, short and mohair—was accompanied by knee-high, white, patent plastic, lace-up boots and a bold houndstooth check ribbed sweater. I remember too much; the mouton trimmed suede coat, oversized cap with matching scarf, giant white plastic sunglasses overwhelming what might have been perfection. It is all very long ago and very confusing.

The next time I saw her overdressed, I was walking along the Seine gossiping with my fellow vendeuses. And there she stood, wearing all her closet, though the day was warm. Darling Yves—the Gypsy Look—draped every female that year. A long full purple velvet skirt; a bunched and belted blouson blouse, black leather boots, a tapestry vest festooned with faux coins. The turban and fringed piano shawl tipped it to excess. That summer I often saw her drinking Perrier by the river, a Gauloise draped from her well-manicured fingers.

Just a year later, at Studio 54, she again overdressed. She lay on a couch, eyes shut, descending from a cocaine binge. Her spandex pants of electric blue, her yellow sequined tube top, her purple chiffon blouse, they frightened me. She wore green snakeskin platform boots. Her hair, a bright red afro, blended well with the red marabou boa about her neck. I wondered if drugs lead to fashion overdose; then the police raided the disco and I departed, hurrying out before any could notice.

I departed fashion soon after. I moved to South Dakota, where people sensibly attired themselves in worn denim overalls. However, I could not avoid the 80’s, nor the debutante balls. She arrived in Lacroix, fuchsia with sparkling lime-green soutache. A golden gossamer bow in her carefully coiffed hair brought to mind Louis Quatorze. Another and larger bow graced her derriere. Her legs in light pink rhinestone trimmed stockings terminated in feet shod in gold trimmed silver ballet slippers. She caught a chill and donned a bolero jacket. I received a black eye as a wide shoulder pad, stiff with jewel-encrusted Lesage embroidery, smacked my face in passing.

Knowing she would be there, I avoided subsequent debutante balls by moving to Guatemala where people wore soft, shapeless, shabby cottons. I could not purge my memory of fashion; but at least my contact dermatitis, caused by metallic fibers, cleared up.

After six years I returned to high society and the fitting rooms, though I knew she would be there/ The designer would make no difference. She would be overdressed: Issey Miyake, burlap, layers upon layers of odd color combinations with strange, asymmetrical cuts, heavy black hose, Doctor Martin’s boots, a plaid flannel scarf, her hair in dreadlocks, a striped tam crowning her glory.



“Yes, madam?” My voice dripped ennui, seeing the arrogant mess, its shape more changeable than my own. “You have always chosen your own style, why call you to me?”

“I am weary of my clothes, oh chic Vendeuse,” said she. “May I have a do-over?”

“My pleasure, madam,” I humbly replied, then glided off to find her that perfect Chanel suit with suitable and comfortable mid-heel pumps, sheer silk stockings in a natural hue, simple and discreet gold necklace and earrings. An Hermes handbag completed the ensemble. I gave her the numbers of a proper hairstylist and an esteemed aesthetician. I made her happy. She paid me well.

Copyright 2012  Lisa Sergienko


Riding The Dog

My journey was three legs each way, and so I begin at the beginning. Relatively uneventful but for the bus change in Inbredville, whereupon I noted the young cretin filling our diesel tanks was smoking while doing so. I was not immolated, fortunately. I had the opportunity to listen also to an octogenarian organ recital on that the second (and longest) leg of my journey. The third leg was as uneventful as the first and not too crowded. I had the opportunity to wiggle my feet and feel that pleasant tingle of blood rushing back to my lower extremities

I arrived at my destination. I drank. I slept. I drank some more. All, at least what I can remember of it, had a grand time.

Then all to soon it was time to depart the company of friends.

I had another three-leg journey back to Metropolis. Leg the first was suitably pleasant and half full and also sadly, far too short. I changed coaches about an hour later in Important City. Important City’s bus terminal is ill organized and I had a traumatizing time trying to find the proper line for my coach. Nevertheless, find it I did, and waited as patiently as possible. Once situated comfortably on the conveyance, I sat a while longer. Then I sat some more. Approximately one half of an hour after the coach was due to depart Important City, it did so. The coachman was, to put it mildly, unpleasant. He did not call ahead to our destination informing them of his failure to depart on schedule. Therefore, it was that when my second coach arrived in East Cheese, my third and final scheduled coach had departed the station.

I politely inquired about alternatives and was told that my only “alternative” was to wait some six more hours for the “next one”. I inquired where I might find food and libation to slake my annoyance and was told it was some half-mile from anything, but they’d gladly make change so I might vend myself half-chilled mystery liquids and bags of sodium crisps.

I spotted a train station diagonally across the street and took our chance that perhaps, just perhaps, there might be rail service sooner. I wept. There was nothing of the sort that late in the afternoon. However, as small comfort I found the East Cheese train station did have a small bistro shop with chilled sandwiches on reasonably non-stale bread. I was in slightly less piqued form as I picked up newspapers and made my way back across the street to the bus terminal.

It was a darling salon with chairs facing large windows directly off the street. Why, I felt like I was on display. A can of spilt Arizona Iced Tea lay in a brown and drying puddle in the middle of the room. I took pictures as the substance dried. I think the bus line might enjoy them. Evening turned into night and still I sat and read my papers and ate my train station sustenance. I watched the people come and go (unfortunately not speaking of Michelangelo). I watched one man beat up another man in the park across the street. I called 911. I took a pill.

Time came for my late conveyance and when it came, it was full and unable to take anyone. We were told to wait. I took another pill. The clock hands met at the top. The station “management” shooed us huddled masses out the door and turned off the lights. This was grim, becoming grimmer, but all persons waiting were pleasant and gracious. This affirms my insistent belief that most people aren’t evil. The bus companies however? We suspect they are managed by FEMA.

By the time our coaches arrived I staggered into on of very few available seats. Not my favored window position but something with padding. I took two more pills.

We stopped briefly back in Inbredville. Our coachman assured us that another driver was “one the way’ and he departed, leaving us sit sans movement for another half of an hour. I should have been unconscious from drugs at this point. I took another pill. Our driver arrived. I found 3 hours of sleep. I woke up, watched the last hour of our journey to Metropolis roll by. .

Copyright L Sergienko

My Side Of The Bed

Wallace had his side of the bed; the side that answered midnight phone calls, early morning doorbells, and let the dog out when it whined. Everyone has his or her side of the bed.

I’m territorial about my side.

After I found out that Wallace’s file clerk inhabited it while I was on a business trip, I called my best friend Susan. She came over with a sage bundle and salt water. She chanted something Celtic, set off the smoke alarm, and then helped me wrestle the mattress set out of the condo and into a waiting U-Haul. I dislike abandoning the truly useful.

If at any point I thought leaving Wallace was rash, I disabused myself of that notion when Susan and I pulled the U-Haul up to my new apartment in Little Belgrade. I’d viewed the property on a Sunday morning and it was dead quiet. How was I to know that Bojan’s Bakery, over which my new home rested, had outdoor tables inhabited by a fair number of broad-shouldered dark-haired young men drinking Turkish coffee and playing cards?

I learned then that nothing that stirs the heart and testosterone of a young Old World man like the sight of two pasty youngish women struggling to move a bedding set up a steep flight of stairs. Mirko and Stanko and Slavko called their cousins Branko and Darko and Dusan, and offered their services. The mattress barely fit through the door. It barely fit into the bedroom. The guys set up the bedstead and wedged the whole thing tight up against the wall. Then they moved up everything else. I called for a few pizzas. Susan made a beer run. We delivered it all to the tables at the bakery and the guys left, refusing any cash.

Susan took the van back to the rental joint and I started unpacking. About nineish I got a knock on the door. A housewarming bottle of slivovitz and a bed warming shot of Dusan – which was how it all began. At first he would only stop by on Saturdays for an hour or so. Then it was Sunday afternoons too. I’d squeeze fresh orange juice for mimosas. I learned how to make Turkish coffee. Pastries arrived still warm from downstairs.

When he took me out to the local disco on a Friday night I officially became “the girl”. Not many Anglos get that far in Little Belgrade. It gave him sleepover rights; rights which he took to mean that he could sleep on my side of the bed, so I could get up first and make the coffee and run downstairs for breakfast bread. He also got clubhouse rights to my living room for the Sunday game when fall rolled around. And he got the right for me to take him to Nordies for a couple of cashmere sweaters to replace the pilled Orlon ones that were likely an inheritance from his dad.

But the sack time was fantastic, and he liked women with big asses. It was an ego stroke of the most necessary kind. He bought groceries for me to cook when he was going to stay over and replaced my vacuum cleaner and coffee machine with top of the line models. All I needed was an Ambien before bed to render the discomfort of not being on my side of the bed moot, and a Valium on Sunday afternoons if their team was losing.

By playoffs time it was two Valium. In March I doubled the Ambien. Dermatologists, third generation Albanian-American Presbyterians, who wore Ralph Lauren polo shirts, got the building next-door as part of a lawsuit settlement, put bars and Plexiglas in all the windows, and set up shop. I dubbed the alleyway Little Kosovo.

Slavs and guns; they go together like hot apple pie and a slice of Vermont cheddar.

Bullets make interesting vectors off stone and Plexiglas and — especially when it hits thin aluminum siding and stops in manflesh. Sometimes it’s a good thing to give in about sleeping arrangements. You never know where you’ll end up. I fished out the old cubic zirconia engagement ring leftover from Wallace, and slipped it on before the police and Mirko and Stanko and Slavko and their cousins Branko and Darko arrived on the scene.

Saint Sava’s took up a collection to buy me a TempurPedic. Dusan’s priest came over with a censer and holy water and chanted something in Slavonic. His wife brought six hundred thread count linens, and a couple of goosedown pillows. My new brothers and cousins put up a piece of Plexiglas. I converted. I don’t cook much any more. The wives cook. The bread is hot and free. My ass gets wider. I sleep on my side of the bed.

All work is copyrighted property of Lisa Sergienko.


This is a place for things that would otherwise get stuck in my head.   It’s all up for grabs.  Politics, ok.  Religion, ok.  Delusions, ok.  Anything really.  Disagreement is good.